The cost savings benefits of interval data for main utility meters and submeters for specific loads (e.g. lighting, refrigeration), work areas (e.g. welding), or equipment (e.g. electric furnace) are well understood by energy and facility managers. Energy data from utility bills are “rear view mirror” snapshots of energy use and typically received 30-60 days after use. Interval data provides operators a view of what is happening now and thus affords an opportunity to make changes that optimize energy usage. But with submeter generating lots of interval data (typically every 15 minutes), who has time to review and analyze all this data?
The primary function of the typically thinly-staffed energy and facility teams is operational reliability (keeping the line running or building operating) and maintenance (break-fix). It takes time to normalize the submeter data for weather, occupancy, production levels and other factors to identify true energy use anomalies (miscalibrated equipment, equipment needless running, etc.). This is time these teams often do not have. For example, one Fortune 500 firm has dozens and dozens of submeters across 3 large manufacturing facilities but the energy team simply did not have the time to analyze the data.
Compounding this time challenge is missing incentives for operational improvements. Many teams (like the team mentioned above) are rewarded for reliability and occupancy comfort and not energy efficiency. In other words, there is little upside to driving energy savings through behavior change or equipment calibration (one may even argue there is downsize because chasing energy efficiency improvements takes time away from reliability or comfort goals).
In our research report on energy management software that profiles 45 vendors, we noticed that many software packages simply display submetered data or offer simplistic algorithms to normalize the data. These time-started teams need more than graphical displays of data.
The good news is that innovative solutions are coming to the market. In part 2, we’ll summarize some solutions that leverage the power of submetered data with the reality of time-starved operational teams. These solutions involve the generation of proposed work orders, the remote control of assets or equipment, and other capabilities.
What are your views on this?